Apr 24, 2024

Happy 50th Anniversary ASQ!

Maestro's Monthly Blog: Happy 50th Anniversary ASQ!

One of the premiere professional string quartets actively performing on the worldwide stage, the American String Quartet is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season this year, and The Discovery Orchestra has been indeed fortunate to have a long and fulfilling relationship with these outstanding musicians.

I met one of the members of the quartet before the ensemble was established in 1974. During the summer of 1970, violist Daniel Avshalomov and I were stand partners in the Aspen Festival Orchestra. I would not see Dan again until 1975 when I moved to Manhattan, where Dan had become a well-respected violist in New York’s classical music scene. Our professional paths began to cross in 1976, and it was great to be playing again with Dan in ensembles like the Brooklyn Philharmonic, both in New York and on international tours.

I met Peter Winograd, who was the concertmaster of The Plainfield Symphony, when I became that ensemble’s music director in 1982. Peter would not join the American String Quartet as its first violinist until 1990, replacing Mitchell Stern who had sadly died of a brain aneurism at age 45. Early in the 1990’s Peter introduced me to the other two members of the ensemble, violinist Laurie Carnie and cellist David Geber.

By that time, Peter had also become the concertmaster of the Philharmonic Orchestra of New Jersey, The Discovery Orchestra’s predecessor entity. And it was during the 1990’s that the quartet began making regular appearances at our in-home programs, our Intimate Evenings and Intimate Afternoons series. The quartet became an instant hit and favorite with our audiences!

In this 50th Anniversary Season, Laurie and Dan are now the elder members of the quartet, Laurie being the only original member still with the ensemble. German cellist Wolfram Koessel replaced David Geber upon David’s retirement. And in an era-ending decision, Dan Avshalomov has recently announced that this season will be his last. German-born violist Matthias Buchholz will join the American String Quartet beginning in the 2024-2025 season.

What a legacy! They have played in leading concert and recital halls the world over. In 2008 they recorded the Complete Mozart String Quartets on a matched set of Stradivarius instruments… and performed some of those quartets – on the matched set of Strads – on one of our Intimate Afternoons!Their recordings appear on a number of labels including Nonesuch and RCA. Of their playing, The New York Times has written: “…luxurious, beautifully sculpted performances.”

Earlier this month, Marcia and I attended their most recent recital in New York presented in celebration of the quartet’s 50th Anniversary Season and the 40th Anniversary of their being Artists in Residence at the Manhattan School of Music. It was an exquisite, powerful, and moving evening! Andtheir new violist, Matthias Buchholz, joined them in a gorgeous performance of the Brahms String Quintet in No.2 in G Major for two violins, two violas, and cello. We love you four … and you too, Matthias!

BRAVI! • BRAVI! • BRAVI! • BRAVI!  Peter, Laurie, Dan and Wolfram!